The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Greogry Corso

Used with permission, Tough Poets Publishing

Used with permission, Tough Poets Publishing

Thanks to Richard Schober for information about his upcoming book, The Whole Shot: Collected Interviews with Gregory Corso – Tough Poets Publishing (ordering info). This looks to be a wholly remarkable book for anyone’s Beat library.

Release date: Fall 2014
Format: Paperback
Pages: 204
Dimensions: 8.3″ x 5.8″ x 0.4″
Editor: Rick Schober

Description: Thirteen interviews with Beat poet Gregory Corso (1930–2001) that span the most productive years of his career: from 1955, when his first collection of poems was published, to 1982, the year following the publication of his last book of all new poetry. Foreword by Dick Brukenfeld, publisher of Corso’s The Vestal Lady on Brattle and Other Poems (1955), that recounts the poet’s early days in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and as a “stowaway” on the Harvard University campus.

“The most important of the Beat poets. He was a really true poet with an original voice, probably the most lyrical of those poets.”
— Nancy Peters, co-owner of City Lights Books

“Corso is a poet’s Poet, his verse pure velvet, close to John Keats for our time, exquisitely delicate in manners of the Muse.”
— Allen Ginsberg

“… a tough young kid from the Lower East Side who rose like an angel over the rooftops and sang Italian songs as sweet as Caruso and Sinatra, but in words.”
— Jack Kerouac

“He has left us two legacies: a body of work that will endure for its beauty, discipline, and influential energy; and his human qualities.”
— Patti Smith

Beat News’ Newest Projects

This site began in the late 1990s and continues to this day, albeit with less fast-paced news. We usually present tidbits that readers send in.

After hosting Beat News for many years, we ran Jack Magazine for a decade. This literary e-zine is now archived at Stanford University. The project then evolved into Moon Willow Press, a micropress with a focus on nature/environmental fiction and prose, similar to the works we featured at Jack. Moon Willow Press publishes 2-5 works per year and now has distribution through Ingram. The press does not just publish books, however. We also host two online projects:

Ever Gold Gallery presents “beat art”

Ever Gold Gallery is pleased to present, “Oh How Much It Hurt: Fred Martin and Friends in the Fifties,” with works by Martin, Jay De Feo, Wally Hedrick, Deborah Remington, David Simpson and Roy De Forest, many of which have not been seen in 60 years since they were first shown at the legendary Six Gallery (1954-1957), one of San Francisco’s first alternative art spaces and the site for the first reading of Allen Ginsberg’s, “Howl” in October 1955.
The exhibition captures the spirit of experimentation these artists wrestled with during the turbulent “Beat Era,” ushering in increased recognition for both the artists and The City in which they came of age. The majority of the works are from Fred Martin’s own collection acquired directly from his artist friends.
The exhibition opens June 14 with a reception for the artist, and runs until July 17.


California Poems by Carolyn Welch


Carolyn Welch’s new chapbook encompasses over a decade of poems that reflect her native California. From her experiences as a novice surfer to writing experimental prose, such as pantoums and vignettes, Carolyn has produced an imaginative, musical, and often eerie collection. The poems crawl with motifs of extinction, ends, human activity, and ecological destruction, including climate change. With nods to her inspirations–from the San Francisco Renaissance poets to Elvis Costello to jazz to her natural surroundings–Carolyn also weaves in hope and celebrates all life, including past civilizations.

If you are interested in reviewing California Poems, please contact Moon Willow Press. The book is also available in print as a Japanese-stitched booklet (49 pp.).


Big Sur the Movie

Update: I finally watched this movie. It is still on Netflix, I think. It’s not bad at all. The characters are well-defined. The coast is beautiful. The depression Kerouac goes through at Big Sur is definitely all there. I’d give it a try. Continue reading

Ray Manzarek

When Ray Manzarek, of the Doors, died, I heard it on the car radio on the way to work. I didn’t rush to blog about it because it shocked me so, and later I got busy. So here it is. Continue reading

HOWL Art by Micklangelo

Micklangelo, a visual creator and conceptual thinker, is fascinated with how the 1960s revolution of thought and sensibility continues. He describes Allen Ginsberg’s HOWL as one of the “genetic markers” in the development of modern culture and notes that while expressing his own personal turmoil within the rigid moral confines of 1950’s America, Ginsberg touched a universal nerve, which helped to ignite the counterculture forming within the world’s dissatisfied youth. Political, social, and sexual themes are explored and described in language so poetical that the poem’s power is still relevant today.


Free Flip-Page Online Free Reading of Infernal Drums

Free books–a chapter at a time is Moon Willow Press’s new tool that allows you to freely read our books online, right here, right now–one chapter each week. We’ll even send a free copy of the book to the first 50 people who take advantage of this tool and read this book AND like it AND write a well-written and positive review at either Amazon or at another popular book media outlet. We’re not kidding. Just contact the press for more information. Our first title is Infernal Drums (discover more about this title below). Check back January 20th for Chapter 2. Don’t worry: we’ll keep these chapters online for some time. Continue reading

Talking News with Carolyn Cassady

The Readex Blog recently re-republished an interview with the “matriarch of the Beat Generation,” Carolyn Cassady. Cassady is nearing 90 but still hot.

Sixty years after publication of Jack Kerouac’s influential novel of the Beat Generation, On the Road has been adapted for film. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles, the long-awaited film, scheduled to open in the U.S. this Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, stars Sam Riley as Kerouac’s alter ego Sal Paradise, Garrett Hedlund as Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady) and Kristen Stewart as Marylou (LuAnne Henderson, Cassady’s first wife). Kirsten Dunst plays Camille, the real-life Carolyn Robinson who married Cassady in 1948.

Clara Hume’s Back to the Garden

Book link
Amazon link

bttgClara Hume’s novel Back to Garden is newly published by Moon Willow Press. The book takes place near the end of the century and follows a dozen people living in a time when climate change and ecological devastation have resulted in not only a lack of natural resources necessary to live (fresh water, arable soil, healthy forests and oceans) but also when, due to economic collapse, a lot of items we take for granted have come to a halt, including disease control, global communication, and defense. It’s every man for himself.

Beginning with a small group of survivors on an Idaho Mountain, appropriately termed Wild Mountain, descendants of a few ancient and honored homesteaders are struggling to keep their mountain healthy for living. From sunup to sundown they must care for crops, fish, horses, water, chicken, sheep, and nearby wild species. It is no accident that the group manages to grow apple trees and a garden, a hats-off to Daniel Quinn’s references to the biblical Garden of Eden in Ishmael.

The group leaves their homestead to find lost family members, while other ranchers on the mountain care for their homes temporarily. During the harsh journey across the country, the group picks up strangers who are lonely and struggling. The characters’ flashbacks to personal demons, along with personal growth, is sometimes sad and sometimes humorous but is always enlightening and redemptive.

The book, while introspective, gives a frightening view of where we’re headed unless everyone starts taking climate change seriously. The book doesn’t focus on climate change, and hardly mentions it, but does look at how people in the future are innately connected to their natural environment and thus are inspired to preserve it. The story-line is compelling, and the characters are unique in the way they react to their environments and others in the surrogate family. There are also a few nods to literary ecologists such as Henry David Thoreau, Robinson Jeffers, Bill Hotchkiss, Jack Kerouac, and and Michael McClure.

The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac

Thanks to Viking Penguin for the review copy of Joyce Johnson’s new title. I just got the book so will review it later,  but for now some words from the publicist:

Advance Praise for THE VOICE IS ALL

“An exemplary biography of the Beat icon and his development as a writer . . . There’s plenty of life in these pages to fascinate casual readers, and Johnson is a sensitive but admirably objective biographer . . . A triumph of scholarship.” —Kirkus

“…brings an insider’s perspective to this insightful study of how Kerouac found his literary voice . . . [She] excels in her colorful, candid assessment of the evolution of this voice—up through the genesis of On the Road—the point where most other appraisals of Kerouac begin.” -Publishers Weekly

“Johnson breaks new ground in this well-written account of Kerouac’s early life . . . She is particularly good at exploring the psychology of Kerouac’s relationship with women and the effect of his attachment to his mother on those relationships. The portrait of Kerouac that emerges is one of a complicated individual, full of contradictions, who, above all else, was dedicated to his art. . . Her book is essential reading for anyone interested in a deeper understanding of Kerouac’s life and work.

This is quite simply the best book about Kerouac and one of the best accounts of any writer’s apprenticeship that I have read. And it should generate a serious reconsideration of Kerouac as a classical, because hyphenated, American writer, one struggling to synthesize a doubled language, culture, and class. It’s also a terrific read, a windstorm of a story.” —Russell Banks

In THE VOICE IS ALL: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac (Viking; on sale: September 17th, 2012; ISBN: 978-0-670-02510-7; 512 pp), Joyce Johnson offers a groundbreaking portrait of Jack Kerouac as a young artist, focusing on Kerouac’s slow, often painful development as a writer over the first thirty years of his life, from his early struggles to master English through the grueling years of searching for a way to write On the Road, and ending with the astonishing breakthroughs in late 1951 that resulted in the  opening sections of Visions of Cody.

Looking more deeply than previous biographers into the insular and deeply traditional Franco-American immigrant culture that Kerouac was born into, Johnson follows the implications of that heritage in both his life and his work as Kerouac uneasily attempted to balance himself between two cultures and two languages.  She puts into perspective the contradictions —cultural, sexual, and psychological —that were constantly at war within him, showing how they affected his complicated relationships with his remarkable circle of friends, his mother, and with the women whose lives he passed through.

Prior biographies have focused on the more sensational aspects of Kerouac’s life rather than the long process through which he became a writer. They tell the story of a dysfunctional life, of a man who lacked a center—forgetting that the center of Kerouac’s life was always his work.  In THE VOICE IS ALL Johnson, with access to the archive of Kerouac’s papers at the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, material which was unavailable to previous biographers, has taken on these misconceptions and tried to liberate Kerouac from the legend that has congealed around him by emphasizing his extraordinary dedication to his craft.   Johnson shows how Kerouac as a writer was created to an important degree by a wide-ranging reading and study of literature, and that he was in every way a conscious artist and a severe critic of his own work.  Johnson sheds new light on the composition of On the Road, documenting how Kerouac’s legendary “spontaneous” writing was preceded by three frustrating years of revised and abandoned drafts.  Johnson argues that Kerouac would have developed into an extraordinary writer even if he had never met Neal Cassady; as she reveals, Dean Moriarty is in many ways a fictional creation, used by Kerouac as a vehicle to express his own deep sense of duality.

Johnson’s experience as a writer of both fiction and memoir and her own vivid personal memories of Kerouac, with whom she had a romance when she was twenty-one years old in 1957,  greatly inform her take on Kerouac’s creative process in THE VOICE IS ALL, resulting in a book that greatly deepens our understanding of his life and his achievement.

Joyce Johnson Events

  • NY / September 19th / Book Court
  • NY / September 25th / 192 Books
  • NY / September 26th / Strand Bookstore
  • Washington DC / October 11th / Politics & Prose
  • New York, NY / December 5th / CUNY’s Leon Levy Center for Biography
  • San Francisco, CA / January 15th / City Lights Bookstore
  • Key West, FL / January 17th / Key West Literary Seminar

About the Author

Joyce Johnson’s eight books include the 1983 National Book Critics Circle Award winner Minor Characters, the recent memoir Missing Men, the novel In the Night Café, and Door Wide Open: A Beat Love Affair in  Letters, 1957–1958 (with Jack Kerouac). She has written for Vanity Fair and The New Yorker and lives in New York City.

The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac
By Joyce Johnson
Viking; on sale: September 17th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-670-02510-7; 512 pp

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